How Allusions to Light and Darkness Reveal the True Character of Each Individual in the Scarlet Letter

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In the Scarlet Letter, allusions to light and darkness reveal much of each individual’s character. Throughout the novel, these allusions highlight how each of the main characters change. For example, Pearl, toward the end of the novel, is portrayed as illuminated by a ray of sun near the brook. Hawthorne writes “the way in which Pearl stood… illuminated by a ray of sunshine attracted by a ray of sympathy” (pg. 142). Although Pearl was born in a sinful fashion, she seems to be inherently good, despite her mother’s sins and her occasional fit of impishness. Hawthorne’s portrayal of Pearl in this passage shows that while she was a child born of sin, the world seems to favor her and ignore those beginnings. She is proven to be a being practically immune to sin and its repercussions, as the pitying ray of sunlight demonstrates. Reverend Dimmesdale’s underlying character also is revealed by allusions to light and dark. During Chillingworth’s extended period of care for the reverend, he (Dimmesdale) resides in what appears to be a constantly darkened room, which indicates he lives in an air of guilt and self-deception. His very being is also suggested to be a place void of light and hope, as his name (containing the word dim) is gloomy and dark. In Chapter 9, Hawthorne illustrates this darkness by writing “so imminent a prospect that his dawning light would be extinguished” which implies not only his approaching demise, but also that his concealed sin was slowly destroying him (pg.82). When he approaches and mounts the podium at night, rather than doing so during daylight, it not only shows his reluctance to admit to his sins, but also his self-deception, because although he knows he is guilty of sin, he refuses to publicly admit that he is so, and instead almost subconsciously punishes himself at night. In the last chapters, Hester Prynne is also described with light

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